Wednesday, March 31, 2010


My plan for today was simple:

1. Up at 5:15am.

2. Out the door by 5:30 for a quick run.

3. Back home showered, packed, fed, caffeinated, and out the door by 7:15ish.

I was in bed at 10:15pm last night, which is within the magic bedtime window that makes getting up before 6am tolerable. Everything was in place. My plans were simple and sure.

Then came the 4:51am INTERRUPTION.

We'd like to interrupt your precious beauty rest and comfortable state under your down comforter with...

A crying toddler.

We usually hear K an hour or so before she is up for the day. She usually regathers her duck and her dog and her popple and her blankie and then goes back to sleep.

This morning,

She started crying for "Mama" and then moved quickly on to "milky".

About five minutes into her crying/whining, I knew she needed some back-to-sleep assistance.

Eight ounces of milk and multiple rounds of "if you're happy and you know it go to sleep..." later and she was back to sleep. And it was time for me to be out the door about 1/2 mile into my run. Grrrr...

Not wanting to be late to school (I have a busy day ahead) and feeling extremely tired from getting up PRIOR to 5am, I opted for a 15 minute power nap followed by a quick shower, lunch packing, breakfast making, cuddle with K (who was up for the day at 6:30), and diaper change (this would be the second diaper change before 7am - gotta' love it when she's been in her new diaper for less than 15 minutes and she takes a huge #2; we'll be washing diapers AGAIN tomorrow).

I guess I'll run this evening around 9pm when school is over, I'm home, K is asleep, and I have an actual unscheduled moment to myself.

Thankfully the weather is more spring-like now. It will help make the late night run tolerable.

I think a glass of wine will help, too!

Monday, March 29, 2010


D gave me this card this evening...

It made me smile.

He makes me smile.

I do hope the best is yet to be!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Funniest moment so far: D sent me a picture of K this morning. I left the house before she woke up so he sent me a new picture of her. She was dressed in a one-piece pink shorts outfit (complete with pink flowers and elastic around the legs so it looked sort of like bloomers). She had on a long-sleeved onesie and white tights. And her pink crocks. She was dancing in the picture. Loved. it. Loved her outfit; loved that D dressed her in it; loved that she was smiling and dancing. I laughed out loud when I saw it!

Big accomplishment: out the door by 7am; at desk working at 8am.

To do list: is infinitely long. Where do I start... 60+ new articles to read for my dissertation, first draft of my general research plan to write, eight papers to grade, two homework assignments to grade, paper and homework assignment to finish, laundry, mopping the floors, and a run to squeeze in. My goal for today is to get started on all of the reading I have to do and get half of the papers graded.

Motivational treat: sneaking out at noon today to have lunch with my friend, BA, who is in town with her husband. After lunch she's going to take me on a tour of the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins. After the tour, I'm going to spend the afternoon with her while she does her therapy. She's even going to swim for me. So excited and proud of her. She's a quad. And she's going to go swimming. What an inspiration!

Healthy afternoon snack: I have an apple and a Clif Bar.

Dinner: we're planning to have a spaghetti dish with ricotta and zucchini. It's a Martha Stewart recipe; therefore it will be good.

Biggest regret: not getting up to run this morning. Now I have to squeeze my run in between when D gets home and K's bedtime. Running this morning would have been less stressful on my schedule, but sleeping in a little longer was SO nice.

Rant: I have a student in one of the classes I TA who is driving me crazy. She has tried on several occasions now to get me to do parts of her assignment for her. She calls it "asking for hints". I call it LAZY. I'm all for helping students who need further explanation or answers to questions. But this particular student is driving me crazy. I asked her to send me what she had so far, to ask me a specific question, or to bring her code and assumptions to office hours to discuss. She didn't reply or stop by. She just sent another email asking for a hint. I said that she had to send me something or be more specific; that I wasn't going to do the work for her. She stopped emailing me and gave me the evil-eye when I collected the homework assignment this morning. I know she is struggling, but she needs to acknowledge this is do two things: 1) ask for help, and 2) do the freaking work.

To end of a positive note, I am really enjoying the classes I'm TAing. Most of the students are stellar and I am enjoying working with them and getting to know them better.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Brain Google is a term D and I have come up with to describe what happens when one of our brains takes some pieces of information or some sort of query and spits out an answer.

Take tonight for instance... D tells me it is time for dinner. That he simply threw something together (yes, we deviated from our menu; we didn't have the patience to wait 60 minutes for a spinach souffle to bake). When I say I'm going to throw something together, you're likely to get one of three things: a PB&J sandwich, a bowl of cereal and maybe some toast, or black beans and rice.

Not so with D... his "I just threw this together" dinner included the following:

mashed cauliflower with rosemary
leftover carrot risotto
baby brussel sprouts with caramelized onions
cheese straws.

What is a cheese straw you might ask... well, it is puff pastry dough rolled thin, coated in cheese, rolled thin again, then twisted into straws, and baked until crispy.

I asked D how he came up with the idea of cheese straws.

He said he saw the cheese in the refrigerator and knew there was leftover pastry dough in the freezer.

We do not like to have leftovers.

So he used his BRAIN GOOGLE.

Input: pastry dough and cheese.


And the result: cheese straws to go with dinner.


I love being married to a man who loves to cook; is really good at cooking; and who puts his brain google to good use and comes up with great side dishes like the cheese straw!

If you'd like specific instructions for making the cheese straw, please let me know. They will not disappoint you. PROMISE.


This afternoon during my run I stood in two places at once.

I straddled the DC/Maryland border on 16th Street NW just outside of Silver Spring, MD.

I've never run toward Maryland from home. We tend to run toward Rock Creek Park or the Mall.

It dawned on me as we were driving into town last weekend that the run along 16th Street might be a pleasant one. So I tried it today...

Standing in two places at once was exhilarating (ok, that may be a little dramatic, but it was exciting thinking I had run from one jurisdiction to the next). Makes me REALLY want to visit the Four Corners.

The scenery along 16th Street was beautiful. The houses are magnificent. And there is some wonderful landscaping. The redbud trees were also in bloom. Nothing like running alongside some beautiful pink trees.

On the downside, the run - all 8.6 miles - was on concrete. And concrete is HARD. It was also a hill-ier run than I was expecting. When you're in the car it feels like rolling hills; not much of a change in elevation. When you're feet are hitting the concrete, you realize that there are some monster hills along 16th Street. The hill right after the Walter Reed Hospital Center was a steep, long climb. I almost quit before reaching the top.

But I kept on going.

I'm extremely sore for an eight mile run. I think it is due to the concrete. The most I've ever run on concrete is four or five miles. Eight is a little rough on my body. I'm no 20-something any more!

All in all the run was a great cap to a beautiful weekend.

I'm ready for bed. Just need to eat some dinner and spend some QT (aka quality time) with my husband. Tomorrow it is back to school. Classes resume. Only eight weeks of classes remain.

And then I am ABD.

Friday, March 19, 2010


To quote the Brady Bunch:

I think i'll go for a walk outside now
the summer sun's callin my name
i hear ya now
i just can't stay inside all day
i gotta get out get me some of those rays
everybody's smilin
sunshine day
everybody's laughin
sunshine day
everybody seems so happy today
it's a sunshine day

Today was perfect in every sense of the word.

K slept through the night. Slept until 7:10am. And since I didn't have to be at school this morning, I slept until 7:10am. It was luxurious. D made me a strong pot of coffee before leaving for work, and he even bought me some flavored coffee creamer. I had a coffee milkshake with breakfast!

We goofed off around the house until 10 and then set out for the park. We hiked over to the park; the park with swings AND a spiral slide. K had a blast (I had a good time, too; completely enjoyed my travel mug full of coffee milkshake). My little girl has NO fear. She climbed to the highest heights on the jungle gyms. She hit the swings hard. Asking me to go push her "more up" (read: higher!).

We hiked home from the park and had lunch.

K went to sleep soon afterward. She didn't sleep for long. I got no work done, but was successful in getting a couple of loads of laundry washed.

After K's nap, we did some water play. I filled up a couple of bowls and she sat on the floor and played for nearly an hour. She laughed a lot and asked continuously for more - water that is!

After an afternoon snack, we set out for a run. It was the first time we had the jogging stroller out this year. It was perfect weather for running - sunny, 70 degrees, no humidity, and slight breeze. I set out on my 4.13 mile loop a little faster than I should have. Pushing a nearly 20 pound toddler and a 28 pound stroller is hard freaking work. The run was going great until I hit THE HILL...

This is the big hill. It's basically straight up. And it is a full city block long. I was three miles into my run before I set out to climb the hill. By the time I got halfway up the hill, my butt muscles were burning. I was out of breath. And, honestly, I didn't think K and I were going to make it to the top.

But we kept going.

We reached the top of the hill and had a little celebration. We also stopped to take a look at the city. The view from 13th and Clifton is amazing. And Washington DC is beautiful this time of year.

 [photo credit:]

Upon completion of our run, we parked the jogging stroller and K and I went for a walk on our street. We met D at the metro, walked home, and fed K some dinner.

I took a wonderfully hot shower.

D is cooking two pizzas for dinner --- a mushroom lovers and veggie lovers.

We have a bottle of wine to enjoy with the pizza.

Oh, and did I mention that the baby is sound asleep? And the work on our house is nearly complete? And that our kitchen sink is FINALLY draining (after a year and a half of only draining when the garbage disposal was on)?

It truly was a wonderful day!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


It has been a productive week.

To prove my productivity, I retired two pens today. Both were completely out of ink.

Yes, I have been writing a lot. The number of articles one has to summarize, categorize, and synthesize for a dissertation is astronomical. Just when you think you have covered every possibly aspect of your project and have resources to support your methods and analysis, another topic rears its ugly head and it is back to the library (virtually, of course).

Since I read most of my articles online, I take notes, write summaries, and create resource charts on paper with a pen. Yes, I am old school when it comes to research. I believe I am better organized with a pad of paper and multi-colored pens. And, yes, I do end up retyping most of my notes and charts, but I learn through writing. Ultimately, this is the strategy that works best for me.

I've been through well over 200 articles this week alone.

I've used a lot of ink. Two pens worth to be exact.

Throwing the pens away this afternoon made me feel like I've really accomplished something.

I'm estimating that I'll go through at least five more pens before the research phase of my dissertation is over.

Anyone else want to take a guess at how many pens I'll use?


Other areas of productivity:

HOME: keeping up with the messy mess that is our house. The contractors have been working all week. We have walls and ceilings, but it is messy. There is a layer (or two) of dust everywhere. We're managing, keeping things as tidy as possible, and trying not to track dust to parts of the house that are clean.

EXERCISE: had two great bike rides this week. My inner thighs don't agree with my mind. They are sore. So is my bottom; bike seats are hard of the bottom. Also had a great run on Tuesday night. I'm getting close to achieving my goal of running my 4.13 mile loop in less than 35 minutes. Only 45 seconds to knock off. Tomorrow it is supposed to be sunny and 70 degrees. I'm going to dust the jogging stroller off and take K on a run. I was planning to run hills; not sure if that will happen with a nearly 19 pound toddler and a 30 pound jogging stroller. We'll see...


Funniest moment so far: at 3am this morning I was in K's room doing everything in my power to get her back to sleep. That's when I noticed it... the clock in K's room was one hour faster than the time on my watch. I spent several frantic minutes searching K's room thinking an intruder was in the house and had messed with her clock. When I realized that wasn't the case, I started timing each minute. My guess was that K's clock is off and the minutes are ticking away at a rate faster than 60 seconds. After several observations, I realized this was not the case. At 3:07am, K started begging for milk. Little girl was starving. So we went downstairs for milk. It was at 3:08am that I realized that it was in fact 3:08am. My watch said 2:08am. I never set it forward for daylight savings time. What is funny is that it took me nearly five days to notice. And I wear my watch 24-7. Not once did I think huh...I should reset this for the time change. I'm an idiot. I told D about my adventures looking for an intruder and timing the minutes in K's room this morning. He had a good laugh at my expense.

Big accomplishment: made it to school this morning SAFELY. This is huge. I didn't get much sleep last night or the night before.

To do list: 38 articles to read and summarize for my dissertation. Also have a neighborhood meeting to attend this evening.

Motivational treat: this morning I had trail mix as a mid-morning pick-me-up.

Healthy Afternoon Snack: will be having another Clif Bar

Biggest regret: today there are two: 1) getting mad at K for partying in the wee hours of morning. Not sure if it is the time change, being outside for long periods during the day, a growth spurt or what... but the little girl has needed some milk in the middle of the night. Last night she chugged more than 10 oz before going back to sleep. I should not get mad or impatient with her. She's still tiny. 2) wearing a coat to school this morning. It's nearly 70 degrees outside right now. No coat necessary.

Dinner: not sure what we are having tonight. Last night we had carrot risotto with cornmeal and pumpkin seed encrusted tofu. Lunch today is roasted veggie wrap with rice and spicy peanut butter sauce.

Rant: Are you kidding me?!?! My 17 month old is not sleeping through the night? Come on already. (and, yes, I already regret complaining about her and her need for calories in the middle of the night)

**I've decided to continue my Thursday's posts. I like the consistency of blogging about the same things once a week and not having to come up with a topic to write about.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Seventeen years ago...

I was 15 years old;
a freshman in high school;
competing in my first high school swimming state championship meet;


snowed in at Penn State University.

Seventeen years ago this weekend was the Blizzard of 1993. Commonly referred to as the STORM OF THE CENTURY.

As a teenager, being snowed in at a hotel with a group of your best friends was a dream come true. Things at Penn State were crazy that weekend. On Saturday, the officials at the swim meet completely rearranged the meet schedule. Instead of having preliminary heats in the morning and finals at night, the meet was shortened and swum in a timed finals format. We were finished completing before noon on Saturday.

Our season was over. And it was a good one.

And we were ready to celebrate.

We spent countless hours outside playing in 27 inches of freshly fallen snow. We searched unsuccessfully for the Penn State hot springs. We had snow ball fights. We jumped into snow piles 15 or so feet high. We watched other swimmers sledride down the street on car mats. We watched one too many episodes of Beavis and Butthead (the show premiered the weekend of the Blizzard). We got in a little bit of trouble with the hotel staff (just a little bit!).

It was one of the best weekends of high school.

We went back home with memories for a lifetime.

To think that it all happened 17 years ago makes me feel old.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Funniest moment so far: watching K dance to Lady Gaga's Bad Romance before 7am. Sweet little girl was dancing in her stars and moons PJs, bangs in her eyes, holding her dada's phone (which was playing the music). Big smile on her face. Sweet heart is loving pop music these days and cannot stop dancing (or asking for "more" music). Favorite artists to date are Lady Gaga and Vampire Weekend.

Big accomplishment: taught a class this morning. It went well. Was asked a lot of questions; thankfully had answers for all of them. The regular professor for the course thought I did a great job. Yeah, me!

To do list: 132 articles to get through for the preliminary literature review for my dissertation.

Motivational treat: afternoon diet coke

Healthy afternoon snackS: (yes, I need two snacks this afternoon) grapes and a chocolate brownie Chif Bar

Big regret: forgetting my gym clothes at home. Looks like I'll be taking Thursday off and biking on Friday this week.

Dinner: Subway veggie patty sandwiches with all the veggies on top, toasted, no cheese. Such a treat; I cannot wait!

Rant: I'm in the middle of grading 30 literature reviews for the class I TA. It's a big undertaking that takes a HUGE amount of time. I just finished reading a poorly written and critiqued paper by a student who should be writing better and critiquing more critically. He has a lot of letters, including MD, after his name. What really gets me is he is such a cocky writer... saying things like, "I am, as an informed reader, highly suspicious..." What is he highly informed about? The topic? methods? analysis plan? the weather? HIS MOTHER? If you need to write you are highly informed and are not demonstrating that you understand the underlying concepts of the course, you probably think too highly of yourself. Get your freaking act together.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Temperatures in the 60s.


Majority of the snow melted.

Birds chirping before the sun is up.

And the daffodils are coming up.

I think it might be spring.

Thank goodness.

Yesterday, I was home with K and her little buddy A. We walked to the library for story hour; took the long route home afterward. We ate lunch with the windows open. After a long afternoon nap (no, I did not nap; kids did), we packed up a snack and walked to the park. It felt like everyone in the neighborhood was outside. K said hi and bye to just about everyone and everything passing. She also barked at every one of the dogs we passed and made clicking noises when she saw a cat or chipmunk (chipmunks click; cats... we click to get them to come - thus clicking noises when both animals are spotted). We were at the park until 5:30. Sun was shining and it was still warm out.

Love it.

I went out for a run in shorts and a t-shirt at 7pm. Came home sweating. Love that. It's the first time that I didn't need to bundle up for a run in a LONG time.

This morning we woke up to birds chirping.

And, did I mention that the daffodils are up? So looking forward to seeing them bloom.

We planted several bunches of daffodils in our backyard last fall. This year we'll be able to enjoy our very own daffodils. Hopefully by this time next year we'll be seeing some tulips poking through the ground in our yard, too.

Spring, I hope you are here to stay.

Monday, March 8, 2010


We've always eaten dinner late in our house.

Pre-K: by the time we got home from worked, said hello, goofed off, and exercised, it was 8pm before D started cooking.

Post-K: we enjoy eating dinner after she is asleep so we can relax and have adult conversations.

On a good night, we eat dinner around 9pm.

So the time between lunch and dinner is REALLY long. And I've become a snacking machine. On days when I'm at school I usually work out before heading for home. On these days I am SO stinking hungry when I arrive home. After saying good-byes to the nanny and the family we share the nanny with, I usually start snacking HARD. And then D comes home, starving, and he snacks, too.

It's the perfect storm for weight gain.

I snack big and then have a late dinner.

Bad news for my waist-line.

Noticing that I am not losing the weight I wanted to (in fact, I've gained a little bit back post-nursing and eating vegan), I decided that something needed to change.

My bad snacking habits need to stop.

And today is the day. I'm going to try eating a healthy, high-protein snack in the late afternoon (today it will be on my drive home from Baltimore to DC). I'm experimenting this week with protein bars (D bought me an assortment yesterday at the grocery store). I know I need to eat something post-workout and post-lunch. I'll be hungry and crabby if I don't.

But I need to curb my eating.

Packing a snack and limiting myself to said packed snack is the plan for now.

If this doesn't work, I'll be looking for a Plan B. Suggestions/recommendations are encouraged. Please let me know how you avoid snack attacks? And please share any healthy snacks you eat to curb your appetite between meals.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


In early February my friend, Becky, became a triathlete. She completed her first sprint triathlon in Florida (and braved some crazy cold swimming conditions - 60 degree water and 39 degree air temps).

She did not deviate from her training program once - seriously, she was freaking hard core and disciplined. The result: she finished her triathlon at her goal time and is in the best shape of her life. When I proposed that we train for a race together next spring, she was excited; even suggested a race that might be a lot of fun.

All this coming from a girl who prior to the triathlon had only competed in a single 5K.

She's freaking awesome.

In mid-February, Becky and I had an honest conversation about needing some exercise motivation and accountability. That is when SHE suggested doing a virtual Ironman during the month of March.

Here's how it works... we're tracking each of our workouts and aiming to complete 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles on the bike, and 26.2 miles of running before the end of the month. We're tracking our progress using a Google spreadsheet.

To date, I've swum 0 miles, biked 14.36, and run 11.1.

For me, the swimming can be finished in two workouts (I just need to get to the pool). I will be finished with the running after next weekend's 10 miler. I'm hoping to run at least 50 miles this month. The biking, however, is going to be my Achilles' Heal. Squeezing in enough bike workouts to total 112 miles is going to push me. It's also going to strengthen my leg muscles. And provide me with some much needed cross-training.

Assuming we both complete our Ironman in March, we will celebrate in May when K and I go to Florida to visit Becky!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I entered the lottery to win tickets to this year's Easter Egg Roll at the White House.

We didn't get in. Bummer. And it doesn't look like the White House abides by the same rules as the NYC Marathon. The marathon makes good on their guarantee that if you are denied entry into the marathon three years in a role you receive an automatic entry on the fourth year. If only the White House would do the same...
Here's hoping we get tickets before President Obama leaves office. I'd love to get a picture of K with the man who was elected President a month after she was born.


(for those of you in church on Sunday, this is a more detailed version, complete with pictures, of what I shared during CC&C. For those of you not in church, you aren't missing much...)

The month of February brought 55+ inches of snow to the DC area. It was crazy. We went to bed one night with barely an inch on the ground and woke up to more than 18 inches outside. Total snow accumulation during the first storm was somewhere in the ballpark of 25 inches. And then it happened again... 20+ inches of snow fell on the 20+ inches that fell the week before. There were hurricane-strength winds and whiteouts. CRAZY.

Our little house is nearly 100 years old, and although it has been updated and renovated 50+ inches of snow was more than she could take. One morning we woke up to a wet floor in our sunroom. And soon afterward the drip, drip, drip, drip started. Here are a few shots of our "little water problem":

We tried everything we could think of to limit the amount of damage to our home. As you can see, we got creative - using tape, putty, funnels, tubing - to direct the water into buckets and other containers.

The dripping didn't stop until D went up on the roof and shoveled all of the snow and ice off of it. And not long after that we started to smell it.

It being mildew.

We called our insurance company. We had contractors and roofers in to look at the damage and give us estimates. And then the mitigation team showed up. As they were introducing themselves to us they said they would probably have to remove the baseboards and maybe cut a few holes in the ceiling to allow the wood to dry. Worst case scenario we'd have to cut the drywall up to the windows.

Or worst-worst case scenario

they take out the walls in both our office and sunroom, cut holes in the ceiling and rip up the carpet, and remove the carpet pad. Needless to say when we started dealing with the leaks we realized that the damage was far greater than expected.

The walls needed to come down and the carpet torn up and the ceiling diced. Sometimes you need to tear it all down, see just how ugly and messy it is, and then start to rebuild. We have a plan in place, good people lined up to fix the place up, and we're choosing new paint colors.

What has happened in our home has also been happening in my life.

It is all quite poetic.

Before Christmas I started to sense that things we not going well for me with my adviser and dissertation topic. I was seeing drips - unclear and changing expectations, promises that were not kept, and things not moving along as planned. I had the sinking feeling that the drips were signs of a bigger problem. I tried my best to convince myself it was no big deal. I tried to convince myself that the problem could be diverted or mitigated if I navigated it just right and was creative (just like we were in capturing our drips and thinking we were limiting the damage).

And then I started to smell it.

Only this time the it was the need to stop everything and reassess before moving forward.

After the Christmas break, the walls came crashing down around me.

I realized how extensive the damage was. I was damaged. Demoralized. Unsure if I'd ever finish my degree. I was lost. But I found guidance from the head of my department, just like we found guidance and reassurance from our insurance company. The head of my department set me on the right path.

And now I'm rebuilding. I'm on the right course (see a couple of posts ago).

Just as our home is being torn apart and rebuilt, so is my professional/educational life.

The similarities between the two situations are too many to name.

Thankfully, I see that rebuilding in both instances is possible and a REALLY good thing.

And there is hope that both will be better once the rebuilding is complete.

Our home is going to be stronger, dryer, and painted in a way that makes us happy.

And at school, I'm in a better place. And I know that finishing my dissertation is going to happen. I even have a timeline in place.

Sometimes the walls do need to come down. And walls coming down is messy and ugly and cold and hard to watch. But after the walls are down you are able to see what is wrong, what needs to be fixed and how to fix the problem. From there rebuilding can happen.

I'm glad to be rebuilding both at home and at school.